Sweden <--> Ohio: Student

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I bought a bike today for $42 and I'm a little bitter about it, though that's a wonderful price in this very expensive country.

It's ugly fluorescent orange, mountain bike tires and a woman's heavy duty body style - I'm not sure if it just inherited the handlebars from something belonging to a child but it's a bad fit - my legs never stretch out fully as I peddle. Also, the seat is very hard plastic with a crack in the middle to boot. You might wonder if the brakes work and I can assure you that they do because I tried them before purchasing. What else? It has gears, which I hear is quite helpful and worth paying a little extra for, however, it's chain sometimes jumps and it may change gears on it's own, as I experienced on my long ride home.

Remaining cramped up in a ball while peddling through the snow is rough on the thighs, you know? Also, adding an oversized, overfilled pack to the equation is a bad idea (ream of paper, 2L or so liquid, books, binder, and a table cloth I'm using as a rug).

I took two buses out to the bike shop (the only one with cheep used bikes in stock) but because I didn't know that by default you're given a transfer (more expensive) and I didn't know how to request the cheaper ticket (by .75$ or so) and because I waited in the freezing cold for FOUR DIFFERENT BUSES (two of those involved waiting in the wrong place), I'm including the cost of my two bus tickets and bringing that price up to $51. Do you see why I'm bitter about the bus?

And almost finally, to bring this long sad tale towards it's whiny conclusion: I have two flat tires. Before I left I had them filled up at the shop I purchased the bike from, so it's not a 'slow leak' or minor problem. After half-walking and half-riding the thing towards downtown (2-3km?), I spotted a bike shop downtown. I inquired about the cost of repairing flat tires: 140SEK... per tire.

That officially *doubles* the cost of the bike (if I include the 14SEK bus ticket home)! I'm calling tomorrow to discuss and hope the total isn't as high as I expect. (In addition, I'm ignoring the 20SEK I spent on a flashlight, my concession to the rule that bikes must be lighted at all times, and the 50SEK I spent on the cheapest lock available, at the strong advice of the international office during orientation).

In addition, I'd planned on doing all this with a friend (Karolina, the Polish girl) but she had other errands to run and couldn't join me. The small ammt of Swedish that she already knows would have been much helpful.

To top it off (and this one is self induced, so can I bitch? I'm not sure), my room is swelteringly hot so I have to convince myself that it's cold outside when I get dressed in the morning (I really *really* wanted to wear a T-shirt and rain jacket today... I decided a very very light cotton long sleeve shirt was acceptable at the last second, luckily).

I had pithy and insightful thoughts today while I was waiting for my three buses for 30-40min in the freezing cold but I can't remember them now. Something to do with how wearing the constant experience of being wrong is, no matter what your culture, and no matter the kindness of the people around you. It's hard.

I'm gonna go on faith that it's good in the end cause I'm not buying it right now.

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